Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hibiscus tea

I have been pretty much addicted to soda (pop, coke) since my early college days.  I was working at a small diner and we could have all the fountain drinks we wanted.  An endless fountain of sweet liquid to drown out how much I hated the job.  I finally quit the job but not the addiction.  There have been times in my life where I would finish a 2 liter of Pepsi in an afternoon.  And start another one for the evening.

From time to time I have switched to diet soda but have always felt that aspartame is probably worse for me than sugar.  I also notice that when I drink diet soda (or regular soda) my water consumption goes down and my craving for sweets goes up.  The longest I've ever gone with out soda was about 6 months.  For some reason I decided (like an alcoholic) I could have just one and I was right back on the addiction wagon.

Part of the problem is that while I actually like water, I get tired of it.  I want something else to drink.  I can drink juice which at least has some vitamins but the calorie count is the same as soda and whole fruit is better.  At least with juice I don't drink two liters but still 16 oz is really too much. 

I have never learned to drink coffee.  I have never liked tea.  As a kid when dad would barbecue outside in the summer time and mom would fix iced tea, I would sneak into the liquor cabinet and get a coke to pour into my glass.  The color was a little darker but I guess no one noticed.  Half ice tea and half lemonade was a pretty good drink I found later on but still too high in calories.  Part of the problem when you are over weight is that you aren't eating or drinking for the taste of something.  If you were, you would be satisfied with just a glass of what ever and that would be fine.

My writers group meets every week at Argo Tea.  You can't just sit there and not order something (you could but that isn't very polite) so I tried the green tea and the black tea with out much success.  I don't even like tea with honey or sugar.  And then I tried the hibiscus tea in their signature drink Tea Sangria.  I know it has fruit and hibiscus tea but I'm not sure what else.  111 calories or 2 points for a 16oz drink and part of that may be the fruit.  It tastes like it might be sweetened.  But it is very yummy.  I also like their hibiscus steamer which is hibiscus and apple cider.

So I bought some tea to bring home.  It is a mixture of hibiscus and dried apple.  I make it every morning at home or work, drink it hot or cold.  I was sweetening it with a little fruit juice and then a little honey.  This morning I drank it with out sweetener and it tasted great. 
It turns out that hibiscus tea is reportedly very healthy.  It supposedly lowers blood pressure and may help with weight loss. For me, it is a nice naturally low calorie drink that makes me feel good.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Judy and Gail's Excellent Adventure

My sister, Judy came to see me over the Labor Day Weekend. The weather was wonderful and the company even better.

The great thing about my sister, Judy (my other sisters as well) is that we don't have to have definite plans. If you know anything about the Meyers/Briggs personality profile we are all J's. Non planners, go by the seat of your pants kind of people. What is important is just getting together and hanging out.

Judy got in late on Thursday night because she was caught in construction traffic for an hour and a half coming in to Chicago. Yup that can happen. I had made the white chili from Women of Great Taste with some modifications to make it gluten free. (It never occurred to me before that you can make your own cream of chicken soup.) We enjoyed our soup and conversation and a couple of episodes of Criminal Minds. Judy has been with out TV for a while though says she hasn't really missed it.

Friday morning we got up and decided to take a road trip to Galina, IL. I had heard it was a nice, pretty town about 3 hours away. Judy didn't object to more driving after her 12 hour drive the day before. Somehow driving is more fun when you have someone to talk to. (though sometimes its nice just to be with your thoughts. She had enough of that the day before.) While I took a shower, Judy got on the Internet and found us a relatively inexpensive bed and breakfast for the night.

The bed and breakfast is called the Snoop Sister's Inn. It is for sale by the way. if anyone is interested in purchasing a bed and breakfast. The owners were nice and it is a beautiful building. The economy has hurt their business just as it is impacting much of the country.

Snoop Sister's Inn

We spent the afternoon shopping and then had dinner at a place recommended by out Inn Keeper. Unfortunately they only sold Sangria by the pitcher and for some reason I thought that meant we should drink it all.

Saturday we both had massages (thank you Judy for the treat) and then did more shopping. More looking than buying. On the way home we listened to Judy's John Denver tapes. Exhausted, but happy, we had dinner with Kate and Charlie at my new favorite neighborhood pub, Rockwell's.

On Sunday we planned a bike ride but that was thwarted when it turned out we only had one working bike. Instead we headed to the Jazz festival, stopping at "The Bean."

self portrait reflection in the Bean

At the Jazz festival we met up with my friend Charlotte and several friends of hers. It was quite the interesting and diverse bunch of people. A psychiatrist, a geneticist, an owner of a massage school, a financial consultant, a psychologist, a director of a nonprofit and a nurse. Interesting conversation and the music was O.K. too.

Judy Resting

Judy and I left the group and had dinner at PF Chang's because they have a gluten free menu. At home we watched a great little movie call City Island. I highly recommend it.

 On Monday, sadly, Judy parted and I tried to sleep so I could work my night shift.


Monday, September 6, 2010

A Good Hair Cut

When I lived in St. Charles, I had found a hair dresser not far from where I lived who was wonderful.  I went to her for several years.  She always gave me a great hair cut and did a great job with color. And then she left town.  I was devastated.  You really only need two things in life.  A good hair dresser and a good mechanic.  Since I no longer own a car, I really only need the hair dresser.

Since moving to Chicago I have been moving from salon to salon looking for someone to connect with.  I had found a place near my first apartment in Rosco Village.  I think Kate had steered me there and her roommate had steered her.  But then the hair dresser I liked left, and I didn't like the next person and then when I decided to go back the place was closed.  For a while, I was going to a shop just off the Brown Line.  The hair cuts are 12 dollars.  No shampoo, sometimes a blow dry but really always a good cut.  The women in the shop I think are Russian though I'm not sure of their nationality.  I didn't always get the same one but it didn't really seem to matter.  For some reason when I decided to get my bangs cut (it was probably a Sunday and my shop was closed) I went to another shop in Rosco Village where some of the hair dressers from my old shop had ended up.  The man that cut my hair did a good job but something just wasn't quite right.  Then when my bangs started growing out I made the terrible mistake of going to a Hair Cuttery (a chain for those who aren't familiar).  Why do I not remember that I never get good cuts from those places.  I told the girl (she was young) that I wanted my bangs above my eye brows not half way up my forehead. 
I was trying to let my hair grow out.  Now my bangs looked hideous, someone call them my baby bangs and that is what they looked like, or a little kid's.  My hair was driving me crazy and impulsively (I always get my hair cut impulsively) decided to whack it off.  Again unfortunately it was a Sunday.  My shop was closed.  So I went to another one around the corner that was open.

I had a bad feeling from the start.  The girl was young.  No one else was in the shop.  I had a picture with me.  Kate said the picture looked like a mullet so maybe it was a good thing the cut didn't come out like the picture.  (I think I just want to look like the person in the picture and think the hair cut will do that for me.)  The young woman (probably just out of school) took an hour and a half to cut my hair.  I could tell as she was cutting it it was a bad cut.  But what are you going to do while she has the scissors in her hands?  She actually teased my hair when she was styling it.  I haven't had anyone tease my hair since the 60's or was it the 70's.  Even though the end product didn't look too terrible, it was just not a good cut.  A good hair cut falls naturally and continues to look good even when it grows out.  I had been struggling with this cut since day one.

So last week, (it was Monday and I thought my old shop would be open) I decided to cut my hair once again.  But I was over in a part of town nowhere near my shop, I had gone to my Weigh Watchers meeting, had lunch with Kate because she works in the area and decided I just didn't want to go way over to Kimble to get my hair cut.  I walked by a Hair Cuttery and almost went in when the little voice in my head said YOU ARE NEVER HAPPY WHEN YOU GET YOUR HAIR CUT AT ONE OF THOSE PLACES.  So I thankfully walked on.  The next two salons I walked past were closed because normal salons are closed on Mondays..

I walked for a while looking for an open salon and finally found one.  The stylist was busy cutting a guy's hair but said I could wait.  Normally that salon is also closed on Monday's but Jeffery (the stylist) just started working at that shop and he likes to work on Mondays so it was open.  And they had a 15 dollar walk in special.  Later I found out that hair cuts are normally $45.  I liked Jeffery from the start.  He agreed that I had gotten a very bad hair cut.  He didn't agree with exactly what I wanted to do (he also said it would look too much like a mullet)  and we compromised.  Oh and when he was washing my hair he massaged my head for a few minutes.  That in it self would keep me coming back for more.  Jeffery has been cutting hair for along time.  He is from Seattle and owned his own salon there before deciding to move to Chicago a few years ago.  He was easy to talk to.  Interesting.  And I got a good hair cut.  I think as it grows out it will continue to look great.

So now living in Chicago, I have many choices when it comes to getting my hair cut.  I will go back to see Jeffery even though his hair cuts are 45 dollars and my old shop only charges 12.  Why?  Because as with a good mechanic the relationship is almost as important as the work being done.  The beauticians in my old shop were nice enough but there wasn't a lot of communication or connection going on. 

After about 2 years of having my hair in it's natural state color wise, I have an appointment to have Jeffery color it.  He says he can highlight it without coloring it first and it will look great.  I believe him.  My bangs are still growing out.